Improved Wysteria (Book 2#) Cover

Mysterious Wysteria Cat Watermark

Here is the improved cover for my second book, which will be available again as soon as it passes through Createspace checks. This piece is one of my very favorites, and it depicts Rowan sitting by the Wysteria ocean at sunset.

Tools used to create this:

Colored pencils and imagination.

Book Review of Aria of The Sea

Book Review of Aria of The Sea by Dia Calhoun

Review By Stella Brians

aria of the sea

Several months ago, I found this book at a library book sale and was intrigued by the whimsical yet old fashioned cover art. It is beautiful hard bound book, and the particular copy that I have is pretty rare.

I meant to review this book back in July, but things became busy and hectic.

Aria of The Sea is a book about a girl of thirteen, Cerinthe. Cerinthe is reeling from the death of her mother, and wants very much to become a dancer (ballet) and to become educated at The School of The Royal Dancers in Windward. She has a great deal of trouble getting in, and when she thinks that she does not, she decides to work as a maid, or “smudge” for the dancing school.

Eventually, she is able to attend the school as a dancer, but a spoiled girl who also studies there called Elliana does not want her to feel welcome. Throughout the novel, Elliana tortures, belittles, and manipulates poor Cerinthe. Cerinthe has to deal with many emotions and troubles for a thirteen year old. She is homesick, and misses the seaside where she lived with her parents. Her father is a fisherman, and it seems to me that they do not have a close relationship. She wants very badly to do well as a dancer, and is always so exhausted. Her teachers are rarely friendly, and worst of all these things, she blames herself for her mother’s death.

In this poetic, dreamlike fantasy world that Dia Calhoun has created, young people have more freedom than they do in ours. Cerinthe attends the school completely alone, and without any (or very little, at least) contact with her father. She walks around the city alone. Another relationship Cerinthe is  assaulted with, is with a boy around her age. His name is Thordon, and he works with ships in the harbor. He is not very nice, or interesting, despite his beautiful name. Thordon also turns out to be manipulative in the end.

Despite her missing her family and home, Cerinthe designs a beautiful dance which she called Aria of The Sea, in honor of her deity, The Sea Maid. She writes it so that she may hear The Sea Maid sing to her again, but nothing seems to be working. Anyway,  Elliana ruins the dance, by taking it from Cerinthe and using it for disgraceful ends.

All of these events lead up to a very important choice that Cerinthe must make. She has the gift of healing, but she is not aware of this fact until she meets with a healer who insists that she should study with them instead.

But Cerithne loves dancing, and must make a choice, She must stop blaming herself for her mother’s untimely death, and at thirteen take the path that is truly right for her.

Dia Calhoun’s writing is very special, because she writes in her own very individual way that is gentle, whimsical, and very sincere. I truly felt that I was there at the ballet school, and amongst the waves of the ocean. I felt connected to the novel and to Cerinthe, and I think that anyone who has ever identified as different in some way will feel the same.

Aria of The Sea is a novel ideal for any age.

I now own and look forward to reading its sequel: The Phoenix Dance.

Delving Into History With The Otis Library

In 1989, I was born in Hartford Connecticut to two really smart and creative people. Early on, I wanted to write and create books. I briefly tried acting and ballet, but what I really wanted to do was to write and eventually create art. We moved to Norwich in the very early nineties, where I spent a great deal of time at the Otis Library. It was the coolest place to me back then, especially before the renovation. I love old buildings, because of the history and architecture but also because I find them so interesting. There is a sense of mystery to them that I can’t always put into the words I would quite like to.

We were friendly with the librarians, and familiar with the children’s section. There was a cave, and a wall mural featuring a wizard, knight, and princess standing before a castle in the distance. The Otis Library had one of the finest young adult collections I have ever seen (although it is different now I suspect.) They had the original Three Investigators Series, The Escape to Witch Mountain books, all of The Hardy Boys books, as well as the Cherry Ames Nurse Series. There were many others, and I spent so much of my childhood immersed in these books. The Otis Library had the best activities for children, and the librarians were always so kind.

Recently, I read online about something called The Jim Lafayette Writers Series for science fiction and fantasy writers. I had no idea that this event had been going on for a decade, and I really wish that I had known because I would have loved to be a part of it in some way. Jim Lafayette was a young man who passed away at age 26 due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Disease.

He spent a great deal of time reading and writing science fiction, and this allowed him to escape being confined to his wheelchair. I was deeply moved by his story, the story of such an intelligent and creative person whose life ended far too soon. Jim graduated from Norwich Free Academy (the same school as myself) in 1995. He then went onto Connecticut College and graduated with honors in English. His parents donated his large science fiction collection to The Otis Library, which I found fascinating. I myself have looked through the science fiction and fantasy section there myself and might have come across his books.

I find Mr. Layfayette’s legacy very touching because he was a writer like myself and also sketched as I do. I had no idea that this very cool person once existed in the town of Norwich, CT that I grew up in. I wish I had known a long time ago. He is also inspiring to me because although he had a handicap, he went to school and studied what he loved. He immersed himself in reading and writing science fiction, and also wrote a weekly video game review for The Norwich Bulletin.

In my own ways in life I have struggled, of course, very differently and much less severe than Jim Layfayette. My depression and anxiety have made things very difficult for me, and my writing and art are a way for me to express myself and share my life in a positive way with others. My goal is to turn what troubles me into something beautiful instead– be it a book, a painting, or a drawing.

The yearly event features writers of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but this time was different. This time song and performance was incorporated with the literature being read as I understand it. I very much hope to attend this event in the future. Thank you to the Otis Library and to others for keeping his memory alive.

To Learn More About The Jim Layfayette Writers Series: